Art & Science experiments at This is an Art School at Tate Exchange

How Central St Martins took over the Tate for a week to engage with the public on art, science, education and politics

Jewellery evoking the most isolated inhabited place on the planet. A collectively constructed oversize data visualisation of climate change affecting the Indus Valley. A giant pinhole camera capturing the Shard. A wall comprised solely of doodles. Therapy. Experiments measuring the heartbeats and brainwaves of individuals engaging in various activities. Collages created by solar light.

Where can you see all of this under one roof? A science lab? A toyshop? The library of a medical research institution? NASA?!

”Liberate yourself from your dearest objects” – Çağlar Tahiroğlu 

Actually the usual answer is the studio of Central Saint Martin’s MA Art and Science programme. Here, on a given day, you will find students using embroidery thread to measure perceptions of identity, making solar prints, carving marble (and measuring their heartbeat as they do so), using cola cans to produce long exposures of the sun’s trajectory through winter. However, except for one day a year, the studio is the preserve of the students and tutors involved in the course, and not ordinarily open to the public.

But for the week of 9th January this all changed. Central Saint Martins brought the studio out of the university and into the public in the week long event ‘THIS IS AN ART SCHOOL’. And what more public setting than the fifth floor of the Tate’s new Switch House building, overlooking the Thames, St Paul’s Cathedral, a sizeable number of luxury new flats, and, well, half of London.

Gallery visitors collaborating to paint a projection of climate change

Gallery visitors collaborating to paint a projection of climate change

Indeed it seemed like half of London came out to join us. Perhaps persuaded by press coverage in the Guardian, Evening Standard and Channel 4 News, waves of visitors descended on the Tate Exchange, the Tate’s space ‘for everyone to collaborate, test ideas and discover new perspectives on life, through art’.

As a result, Olga Suchanova guided 448 people through her camera obscura, the same basic device used by Aristotle, da Vinci and Vermeer to observe the world (and nowadays used for such diverse purposes as astronomy, art, medicine and high-energy physics). Enthusiastic viewers included teachers who are inspired to build a camera obscura in their school playground, and visitors who now want to open their own version as an art gallery.

Light, through a pinhole, on black canvas; 5th floor of the Tate Exchange

Light, through a pinhole, on black canvas; 5th floor of the Tate Exchange

The camera obscura worked better on sunny days, and solar radiation also played a key role in Lisa Pettibone’s homemade photographic prints. ‘Students’ (curious members of the public) created collages on special photosensitive paper, using materials such as sand, glitter, foil, string and hair clips. Collages were then placed next to the Tate’s large windows to expose, and after 20 minutes would bear an elaborate series of negative shapes flattened onto a pictorial surface.

“It wasn’t the creativity or kind of zen order that surprised me most about the Tate art school. It was the crackling atmosphere that permeated the experimental thrust of it all” – Lisa Pettibone

Collages made by exposing light onto photosensitive paper

Collages made by exposing light onto photosensitive paper

Audience participation underpinned a number of the ‘lessons’ taking place in THIS IS AN ART SCHOOL. Tere Chadwick’s interactive events included a talk on books about Easter Island, an origami-packaging workshop, and a weeklong display of 21 goldsmith pieces based on Easter Island culture and archaeology. UNESCO has declared this Polynesian culture a World Heritage site for its uniqueness in being the most isolated inhabited place in the planet. Tere had political messages in her work. On the one hand, she considers whether globalisation is driving ethnic cultures to lose their identity. On the other, she uses her origami workshop to show how packaging could be made much more sustainable: a single sheet of recyclable paper is folded into a sturdy box.

Using a single sheet of recyclable paper to create sufficient packaging for an object

Using a single sheet of recyclable paper to create sufficient packaging for an object

Gary Scott’s interactive work also had an important political dimension. ‘Students’ were asked to produce a doodle without ‘thinking’. They were encouraged not to be considered in their approach but to ‘play’ to allow input direct from the unconscious and to express the creative impulse. The global concerns of our time (resolving conflict, climate change, immigration and a tough economic environment, etc) require creative solutions. Gary believes there is a danger that our education system is producing a generation who think within the ‘academic’ box. If creative subjects could be made compulsory at secondary school, he contends, we would be a richer, more contented and balanced society that would find better solutions to the big issues. Gary’s wall of doodles was designed to inspire and ignite creativity in individuals, but was also a call for change.

“This project might not seem like a big deal to the ‘art world’ but for people who feel marginalised or even afraid of art, the opportunity to contribute to an installation at the Tate presented a powerful message” – Gary Scott

Can you spot which was drawn by the two-year old, and which by the professional artist?

Can you spot which was drawn by the two-year old, and which by the professional artist?

Building walls is topical at the moment, and it is interesting that another was created by Stephen Bennett, one also containing a political message. However, instead of a message of divide, this wall could only be built through collaboration. Working with whoever wanted to sit down and paint, Stephen relied on gallery visitors to produce 64 single 15x15cm sheets of different colours. When put together, they formed a giant, homemade data visualisation of the climate change affecting the Indus Valley on the Pakistan-India border. Stephen’s work was an experiment to consider whether people become more invested in evidence when they actively participate in its creation, especially when it takes the identity of a piece of art.

A homemade data visualisation of climate change in the Indus Valley

A homemade data visualisation of climate change in the Indus Valley

Ellie Sher also created a participant-built data visualisation, innovatively using embroidery thread to capture information. Ellie is interested in the psychological and philosophical questions surrounding identity; how we communicate our identity and what strands of identity are most pivotal to our sense of self. Her piece at the Tate explored the top 3 strands of identity selected by people, who chose different colours of thread and matched it to different notches on a constructed frame. Some examples of the strands include cultural, social, memories, genetics, aura, and work. There was a lot of interaction with the piece. It raised a lot of questions and provoked discussion, as the topic of identity often does, but also resulted in a beautiful and fragile piece of art.

Pick your colour thread… and identify yourself!

Pick your colour thread… and identify yourself!

Data collection also underpinned Juan Perez’s work, which is centred on real-time sculpting of marble. This marble piece is only worked upon whilst exhibited. Data is collected from the performer’s oxygen levels and heart rate, whilst performing. An invitation is made for the viewer to be part of the piece, by adding his/her own oxygen and heart rates to the database, and, if desired, for their information to be used and uploaded to the web, as this project grows. The piece, titled ‘Work in Progress’ is an on-going project that constantly develops ways to question the relationships that our bodies have with the realms of art, physical labour, desire and globalisation.

Juan Perez, collecting his own oxygen and heart rate data whist sculpting

Juan Perez, collecting his own oxygen and heart rate data whist sculpting

Monika Dorniak’s interactive event also explored how important body processes responded to artistic performances. Her workshop provided information about body rhythms including heartbeats, breathing and brain waves, and the effect of various stimuli (stress, relaxation) on them. Monika then worked with participants to create short performances in partnerships or groups using rhythms such as clapping, whistling, breathing and others. She supported individuals and groups to develop exercises, and perform to the public. The partner work, in particular, aimed to strengthen group bonds by acknowledging similarities, instead of differences: a collective synchronisation.

Body rhythms explored through specially designed exercises and performances

Body rhythms explored through specially designed exercises and performances

Çağlar Tahiroğlu further developed the art-as-therapy theme in her drop-in performance/workshop entitled Liberate Yourself from your Dearest Objects. Participants were invited to reflect on what they want to liberate themselves from, engage reflective discussion with each other and create representative clay figurines (or depose a real object!). Finally, they put their work into a collective square, which then forms a group sculpture-in-progress. There was an enthusiastic response from participants. Some revealed intimate subjects; discussion were rich and interesting. Different groups of people led to different results. An important finding was how flexible the art-therapy theoretical framework is, and how it can blend into a fine art context without losing its depth. The experiment has provided Çağlar with a quantity of ideas about how to interact with the public in different contexts and different ways to go further in this research.

Çağlar Tahiroğlu, liberating gallery-visitors from their dearest objects

Çağlar Tahiroğlu, liberating gallery-visitors from their dearest objects

Bekk Wells worked with workshop participants to build an enclosure out of sheets and blankets, similar to the forts and dens built by children. For most of the afternoon the structure was full to capacity with people getting to know one another and sharing stories. Bekk commented, “It was a successful exercise in modifying the built environment in order to change in the social environment. It’s surprising how relatively minor interventions can create a new kind of space.”

Tate Fort by Bekk Wells

Tate Fort by Bekk Wells

Neus Torres Tamarit devised and ran two related activities under the banner of ‘Metagenomics in Art’. The first was recombining and sequencing printed strips of three original artworks displayed at Tate Britain and Tate Modern using human metagenome sequences as reference. The artworks are; Los Moscos by Mark Bradford, The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, Ophelia Sequenced I by Neus Torres Tamarit from the original Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais, and mirrored strips that reflect the environment. The second activity consisted of creating artificial DNA sequences using red, blue, green and yellow plasticine, colours that are normally used to represent the four nucleotides of DNA.

Metagenomics In Art by Neus Torres Tamarit (picture by Ben Smith)

Metagenomics In Art by Neus Torres Tamarit (picture by Ben Smith)

If you are inspired by some of these art and science experiments, please follow us on Twitter or Instagram and share this blog. And come see our work in exhibition at the MA Interim Show, Somehow You and I Collide (16-19 March, Mangle, 2-18 Warburton Rd, London E8 3FN), the degree show (24-28 May, Central Saint Martins, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA). 

Somehow You and I Collide – MA Interim Show, 16-19 March

Somehow You and I Collide showcases the work of over 70 postgraduate art students in the first year of their course, be it MA Art and Science, MA Fine Art or MA Photography at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Somehow You and I Collide

Somehow You and I Collide

Housed in the underground post-industrial space of Mangle in London’s East End, the space provides a perfect backdrop for contemporary work that considers what it means to make in today’s economic and political landscape.

Sharing their postgraduate work publicly for the first time, the students span the full scope of media from painting, sculpture, video, performance, and experimental interactive works. Their approaches are diverse and address a range of themes including – but by no means limited to – identity, celebrity, reality, chaos, and excess.

What brings these works together is a shared sense of urgency, the art shown in Somehow You and I Collide is work that needs to be made and needs to be shown.

Please join us for an event that is sure to be exciting and thought-provoking.

Somehow You and I Collide

2-18 Warburton Road, E8 3FN

Private View Thursday 16 March: 6 – 9pm

Exhibition continues 17-19 March: 12 – 6pm

Forced Connections and Rules of Random

How restrictions can make us more creative in art and teaching

Words by Stephen Bennett, with workshop observations from Lisa Pettibone and quotes from participants. Photos by Çağlar Tahiroğlu.


Rules of Random, demonstrating a lesson on 'Antarctic scuba diving to techno heads using a sleep mask'

Rules of Random, demonstrating a lesson on ‘Antarctic scuba diving to techno heads using a sleep mask’


It is October 2016. The leaves are falling, yet it is a time of fresh promise for first-year students on Central Saint Martins’ masters programme in Art and Science. The new students are naturally a bit anxious, keen to impress their course leaders and their fellow students. What will their first artwork be? How to ensure it really shines? Perhaps stick with tried and tested methods, the kind of thing which gained entry to the programme in the first place. That worked well after all. But what is the point of joining a MA just to do the same old thing?

Forced Connection artwork by MA Art and Science students, in Practices of Enquiry exhibition, Cookhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Art, UAL

Forced Connection artwork by MA Art and Science students, in Practices of Enquiry exhibition, Cookhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Art, UAL


Second week, and the course leaders, Nathan Cohen and Heather Barnett, lull the students into a entertaining exercise. Sitting in groups, the students are asked to brainstorm lists of subject matter for art – death, immigration, philosophy, alienation. ‘Black holes!’ someone shouts. This is getting quite fun. Next, different methods for producing art. Painting, sculpting, drawing. But what about data experiments or tasting – how can that be practical? Finally, a list of materials to use in the production of art. Students are warmed up now. Rubber, plastic, cement… bacteria! Sports equipment!!


Use the hammer to smash

the patriarchy walnut!


You may see what is about to happen – but the students didn’t. Heather delivers the coup de grace. Randomly assigning numbers, each student ends up with a unique combination of ‘matter-method-material’. This is the first project brief of the MA: to develop artwork based upon the ‘forced connections’ of a chance group of three words.

The initial result is… uproar amongst the students. But then, with a bit of coaching and support, the studio starts germinating some unusual pieces. Cola cans cling to the window. Folded paper sprouts from a wall. Knitted cushions appear and then start multiplying. A month later, and students are explaining works about immigration, developed through interviews, using bacteria as a material. A collaboration results in painted rocks, telling us about philosophy. Ink dripping down folded paper is a metaphor for alienation. Plastic, painted, reveals insights about communication networks. Just as the first crit is wrapping up, Heather delivers another bombshell. There is an opportunity to show these experimental pieces in a London gallery in a week’s time…

Forced Connection artwork by MA Art and Science student Stephen Bennett connecting 'Immigration | Interviews | Bacteria'

Forced Connection artwork by MA Art and Science student Stephen Bennett connecting ‘Immigration | Interviews | Bacteria’


The display is part of University of the Arts London’s recent Practices of Enquiry, an exhibition of experimental enquiry-based learning across UAL, featuring teaching methods from all colleges. Photos of the in-situ art are studded through this blog. The art is intended to inspire and provoke teaching staff across UAL. This is most evident in the Rules of Random workshop run by Heather. This event, for UAL teaching staff, uses the same techniques as the ‘forced connections’ project.


“How do you send an

orange into space?”


This time unsuspecting participants brainstorm a list of ‘unusual groups of students’, ‘difficult subject matter’, and select random objects. The MA students are interspersed in the groups, now playing the role of coach. They help groups design lesson plans to teach mathematical pattern recognition to traditional wine makers using a compass. Participants consider how to use dried orange slices to teach astrophysics to 16 year olds. Ever used a walnut to teach sex education to linguists? What about using a blindfold to teach technoheads about Antarctic scuba diving? You can see some of the results in this blog.

Rules of random, 'Devise a lesson on sex education to linguists using walnuts'

Rules of random, ‘Devise a lesson on sex education to linguists using walnuts’


The two sister exercises – Forced Connections in the studio, Rules of Random in the gallery – had a number of features in common. Perhaps most obviously they are conduits for unlocking creativity. Everyone can get stuck in a rut, whether producing art, teaching or working in an office. Restricting options can force lateral thinking and resourcefulness. Sometimes we are faced with two many choices or methods, and the possibilities can be paralysing. Sometimes – especially when doing something we are supposed to be good at – we live in fear of failure. But, when forced to use a sieve to teach tradesmen about crime, the failure becomes almost inevitable, and this permits a great willingness to take risk.


“What is the

essence of a feather?”


A number of the CSM students are now incorporating the initially ridiculed combinations of matter-method-material into their main practice. Bacteria and immigration becomes a starting point for examining the semiotics around human relations. Folding and alienation has resulted paper-based in sculptures which morph between two and three dimensions. Similarly, feedback from the Rules of Random workshop participants was that it has opened up new teaching approaches. Food can be an excellent way of teaching 16 year olds about abstract concepts. Participatory lessons, especially ones involving blindfolds or smashing nuts, become instantly memorable. Objects can help focus learning into specific issues in a much broader topic.

Rules of Random, handling given objects to generate ideas

Rules of Random, handling given objects to generate ideas

These techniques can be adapted into practically any environment, with any task in mind. Please try them out, see if it can unlock a problem or open up a new line of enquiry. And remember: you must use whichever random combination you get!

The Rules of Random workshop was developed as part of Practices of Enquiry, a two-year enhancement project at UAL exploring how we create the conditions for enquiry to flourish within our ‘creative, curious, critical curricula’.

The workshop was devised and delivered by MA Art and Science lecturer, Heather Barnett, working with students: Olivia Bargman, Stephen Bennett, Joshua Bourke, Lisa Pettibone, Çağlar Tahiroğlu, and Bekk Wells.



Event review of ‘What if… Why not? Creative Risk-taking in Art, Design and Performance’

This article first appeared in Spark: UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal

Vol 1, No 2 (2016)  –  reproduced with permission

Event review of ‘What if… Why not? Creative Risk-taking in Art, Design and Performance’ at Central St Martins, 21st March 2016

Åinne Burke and Neus Torres Tamarit, students on MA Art and Science, Central St Martins


‘What if… Why not…?: Creative Risk-taking in Art, Design and Performance’ was a symposium organised by Central Saint Martins (in partnership with the Teaching and Learning Exchange) as part of the on-going Teaching Platform series of events exploring contemporary issues in art and design education. It took place at Central Saint Martins on 21 March 2016.

This review takes the form of a conversation between Åinne Burke and Neus Torres Tamarit who, along with other students on the MA Art and Science at Central Saint Martins, devised workshops as part of the symposium. As well as these workshops, this daylong symposium brought together keynote presentations that asked whether creative students are allowed to take risks in university learning. Participants explored how risk-taking is perceived within learning and artistic practice, considering whether teaching can accommodate the possibility of positive failures.


risk, workshop, student-led, failure, curriculum design, assessment


What if… Why not?: Creative Risk-taking in Art, Design and Performance’ was a symposium held at Central Saint Martins College on the 21 March 2016. The event opened with hands-on creative practice workshops on the ‘Rules of Random’, run by students from the MA in Art and Science at CSM. The workshops invited participants to engage with the core questions posed by the symposium:

  • Is there a space for creative students to take risks in their learning at university?
  • How do we understand and experience risk taking within students’ learning and practice?
  • What teaching approaches support (or not) the possibility of ‘positive’ failure?

The daylong symposium also incorporated presentations by speakers, including artist Mark Dunhill (Dean of Academic Programmes at CSM), Professor Matthew Kieran (Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at the University of Leeds) and Dr Silke Lange (Associate Dean of Learning, Teaching and Enhancement at CSM).

As students who ran workshops for teaching staff at the symposium, we decided to position this review as a conversation, in order to give a flavour of our perspective on being involved in a staff event and how we experienced the tutors’ conversations with each other.

Neus and Åinne in conversation

Neus: How did students become involved in delivering workshops at a staff symposium?

Åinne: Through Heather Barnett, one of our lecturers on the MA in Art and Science at CSM. As part of Unit 1 of our course in November 2015, Heather directed a workshop with the title ‘Rules of Random’. Then, in early March, she invited volunteers to devise and facilitate our own 15 minute long versions of these workshops for the symposium. There were seven workshops in all. As well as Neus and myself, a number of other students volunteered to run individual workshops. These were Ellie Armstrong, Marie Macc, Franceska McCullough, Michelle Von Mandel and one workshop was co-directed by Hannah Scott and Nicholas Strappini.

The workshops had individual titles that responded to the concept of ‘Rules of Random’, which was used to name the overall first hour of the symposium, during which they took place. After much consultation as a group, we decided to engage visitors from the moment they arrived at CSM. Each symposium attendee received a colour-coded bag during registration. The paper bag contained various objects that had been selected by the student volunteers running the workshops. Visitors were asked to keep these bags sealed. Instructions on the outside of the bag directed visitors to the symposium room and the different colour of each bag indicated which workshop they should join once they arrived. The workshops were held in the same room as the symposium. Each workshop was directed at a table that accommodated up to seven participants. The participants of the symposium were divided between the seven workshops and stayed in that workshop for the duration of the allocated time for the Rules of Random exercise. The participants of each workshop demonstrated to the group what they did in the workshop and the outcome of their work. Each of us seven students also described our workshop in the context of our own practice and research. Heather Barnett concluded the overall exercise by showing photographs and talking about the results of the Rules of Random workshop she devised and directed with during our MA course work in our studio in Archway earlier in the year.

Neus: I created a workshop linked to my artistic practice about genetics entitled, ‘DNA Mutation and Recombination Dadaist Poem’. I introduced the following risks: uncertainty about the activity’s objective and a set of rules corresponding to each side of a dice that would be applied according to repeated dice rolls. At the end of the activity, I gave a handout with an explanation of the activity’s context.

The workshop participants had to compose a visual poem from words they would write in a random manner and then deconstruct according to a set of rules that emulate DNA recombination and mutation processes dictated by repeated dice rolls.

The workshop’s objective was to revive and modernise Hugo Ball’s performance in the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916, in which he appeared dressed in a machine-like avatar and read his poem, ‘Karawane’. I entered the resulting words that composed the visual poem into speech software that read the final words aloud, resulting in a contemporisation and inversion of ‘Karawane’; the original performance involved humans aping machines but we presented the final element of the performance using machines that ape humans.

The deconstructed words resulting from an aleatory process and the rules emulating DNA processes of recombination and mutation connected with the Dadaist poetry characteristics such as incantation of onomatopoeic constructed words, disparate words conjoined to create nonsense, and fragmentation of words into deracinated syllables or manipulated alphabetics.

Åinne: For my workshop ‘Evoking Memories Through Touch’, participants worked in pairs. One person was given the role of ‘scribe’ and the other ‘explorer’. The explorer was asked to close their eyes, reach into the paper bag (which had been given to them when they registered for the symposium) and take out one object. With their eyes still closed, they felt the object for a set time. The scribe then asked them a series of questions from a questionnaire (provided at the start of the workshop) and wrote them down. The questionnaire was split into two parts; the first asked the explorer to describe the object and second asked about the memories evoked by each object. The participants swapped roles so that they were able to develop a co-authored short story of shared memories, created by their combined descriptive responses. This is a workshop I devised and continue to develop in various projects that facilitates individual and group senses of self, and how we come to know who we are throughout our lives (Burke, 2016). In my MA practice I am continuing to develop that sense of self as part of a local community in a global family on a planet we share with all life. It is part of an on-going project called ‘TEAM, The Earth And Me’ that I am developing with a community in Myanmar.

Neus: Heather Barnett followed the 7 student-led workshops with a presentation describing how the MA Art and Science course encourages students to focus on process rather than finished artwork and to incorporate risk factors into our artistic practices. She presented the Matter-Method-Material experimental project in which after a brainstorm about subjects, methods and materials, students are assigned a random word from each of the three categories and focus on the process, rather than on the objective of producing a final artwork. Her discussion outlined how we, the students, are usually taken out of our creative comfort zone. As a student and artist with ten years of experience, I found this activity challenging. I was assigned three subject-method-material words that I would have never used. But after my first investigations, I managed to link them to my artistic practice and the process was very rewarding.

The symposium then continued with speakers and participants discussing the challenges of how to cultivate creative process that involves risk-taking, failure and uncertainty in an educational system that doesn’t allow enough time or flexibility around meeting curricular targets to do it.

Åinne: During the afternoon papers I particularly enjoyed Mark Dunhill’s talk, ‘Houdini’s Box’ (Philips, 2002). Dunhill demonstrated how risks were taken in the past due to circumstances at play at different moments in history. Mark told us about how in the 1960s, Central Saint Martins created an exploratory way to develop curricula where students explored their work without pre-defined parameters of a set curriculum. Students were free to take responsibility for their own learning by setting up their own projects in their own time frames, without direction. Despite being quite revolutionary this was accepted by the college management at the time. I liked that sense of trust and risk-taking as I am sure all the students gained a very strong sense of who they were and what they wanted to pursue in their work and life.

The group conversation shifted during the subsequent papers during the late afternoon. Both Professor Matthew Kieran and Dr Silke Lange talked about art and art process, which brought the conversation back to how academics plan, develop, direct and administer their courses. What started as a wide-ranging, stimulating conversation on creative risk-taking swiftly transitioned to people discussing the frustrations caused by institutional administration. During these conversations, the institution was increasingly characterised as an inadequate framework that does not support ‘risk taking’ as part of creative development. It is totally understandable that the conversation came back to the everyday trials and tribulations of creative work in a formal educational environment for everyone involved. Aspirations for creative risk-taking as a core philosophy for creative learning needs a concerted effort form everyone, including the students. Who is going to promote and support it and how can it be achieved throughout UAL?

As both a student at UAL and someone who has worked professionally as a director/producer of holistic edutainment projects, it was intriguing to listen to these exchanges. During my career facilitating edutainment events that aimed to develop creativity and imagination through art, technology and science, I have produced and directed what might be termed ‘high-risk’ projects. The process of organising these projects was fluid and allowed for different experiences and varied outputs. However, the structures surrounding educational administration struggle to allow fluidity into curricula, despite the success of the projects academically and creatively. The frustration which led to me scaling back my work was reflected in the late afternoon discussions. Working as staff in the system is incompatible with risk-taking unless it is supported by that system, through its structures. I worked as a maverick on the outside of the educational system bringing projects into it and leaving once they were completed etc. The symposium gave me an inside view of the frustrations that academic staff have in delivering courses under the constraints of heavy administration, sometimes at the loss of creative freedom. I sensed a huge desire to develop a creative risk-taking philosophy and practice, central to the students’ learning.

Neus: During these discussions, I found myself in an interesting position; although I am a qualified teacher I never think of risk, failure and uncertainty as an educator because I have never had a teaching position, but I introduce them into my artistic practice as part of the creative process. In my artistic career, I have developed a working method that consists of shifting back and forth between concept and material. This allows me to move forwards in the creative process in which I set a proper working environment to act according to a set of rules and allowing risk, uncertainty and (no fear of) failure, as said in the symposium. However, a creative process that embraces failure as an integral part of creation is fine in theory. In practice, there are usually external pressures that penalise failure if the process doesn’t arrive to a satisfactory point in a given timeframe. Examples of such external pressures are finishing an artwork either for an exhibition or to have a grade in a course. That said, artists, students or otherwise, should give themselves and be given room to experiment and fail, and be encouraged to learn from failure as well as success when researching techniques, exploring their artistic practice, and following the criteria stipulated by institutions.

The avant-garde movements changed their framework in order to adapt to the needs of the time allowing flexibility around their rules, accepting different artistic practices and interpretations of the same movement. I believe that by questioning the educational system, interrogating one’s own teaching processes, and giving students a degree of creative freedom that is not tied to a marking system, we could be moving forwards. Certainly, as indicated by the presentations and the discussions at the symposium, we are facing a controversial subject that clashes with what is established; certain traditions are very difficult to change.

Åinne: By considering creative risk-taking in an educational and creative environment, it seems that what emerged by the end of the symposium was another question about whether you can introduce and maintain a ‘fluid’ process of risk-taking in an adaptable art learning environment whilst, at the same time, pleasing less fluid, non risk-taking administration at local and regional levels of government in the UK.


Barnett, H. (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 30 May 2016).

Burke, A. (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 18 July 2016).

Frieling, R. (ed.) (2008) The art of participation, 1950 to now. San Francisco: Thames & Hudson.

Kahneman, D. (2011) Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Kieran, M. (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 30 May 2016).

Kieran, M. (2005) Revealing Art. London: Routledge.

Lange, S. (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 30 May 2016).

Philips, A. (2002) Houdini’s Box: The Art of Escape. London: Vintage.

Torres Tamarit, N. (2016) Available at: (Accessed: 18 July 2016).

UAL Teaching Platform. (2016) What if…Why not…?: Creative Risk taking in Art, Design and Performance. Available at: (Accessed: 30 May 2016).


Åinne Burke and Neus Torres Tamarit are students on MA Arts and Science at CSM.

Neus Torres Tamarit graduated in Fine Arts in 2007. She is transitioning her artistic practice to creating art about genetics. She is an artist collaborator at the Art Exchange at the Tate Modern and has exhibited internationally at places such as the Louvre Museum, Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology (India) and the Susak Biennale (Croatia).

Åinne Burke has thirty-five years experience as an artist, writer, producer and director of workshops and projects in Ireland and internationally. Her work centres on the development and facilitation of our creativity and imagination about who we are and the world around us through art, science and technology. She has worked with a wide range of organisations including RTÉ (Ireland), Danmark Radios (Denmark), Norwegian Broadcasting Organization, Netherlands Outside Broadcasting, Svergis Television (Sweden), Canadian Broadcast Co-operation, BBC (UK), Philips Media (Netherlands, New York & UK) and The Office of the President of Ireland.

Copyright (c) 2016 Neus Torres Tamarit, Åinne Burke

Bottle your own nebulae by Carla Mancillas Serna

Art and Science Creative Workshops – now booking

MA Art and Science staff and students are offering a range of creative workshops exploring observations and experimentations in art and science on Saturday 5 and 12 March, at Central Saint Martins.

Come along and get hands on with slime mould problem solving, microbial image making, nebula bottling, water mapping, microscopy inspired glass sculpting and chemigram making. Creative art and science workshops are designed for adults and young people. Young people must be 12+ and accompanied by an adult.

All proceeds go towards the MA Art and Science Degree Show (open to the public 25-29 May 2016).

Cost: £14 adult | £12 UAL staff/student | £9 child/senior/unemployed
(discounts available when you book two or more workshops, applied at checkout)

See details and booking links below…

Looking Glass by Jenny Walsh

Looking Glass by Jenny Walsh


Through the Looking Glass & Microbial Me

5 March 2016, 11:00 – 13:00

Through the Looking Glass (with Jenny Walsh)
Glass played a crucial role in enabling man to see beyond the visual eye. In this workshop discover how skilled craftsmen learned to grind glass and change its composition to revolutionise the way we investigate the microscopic world. Inspired by microscopic images each participant will be invited to create their own microscope slide using glass confetti and stringers.


Microbial Me (with Mellissa Fisher)
Learn about the invisible world on your skin, think about your own microbes and design your own microbial portrait using a painting technique and collage. Each person will have their own microbial face to take home along with knowledge about bacteria!


Attentive Topologies and Water Mapping by Beckie Leach & Silvia Krupinska

Attentive Topologies and Water Mapping by Beckie Leach & Silvia Krupinska


Attentive Topologies & Water Mapping

5 March 2016, 14:00 – 16:00

Attentive Topologies and Water Mapping (with Beckie Leach & Silvia Krupinska)
Focusing on the canal area next to Granary Square in Kings Cross (in front of Central Saint Martins), this workshop will guide you through a series of attentiveness exercises exploring sound and water. You will find out about phenomenological approaches to artistic practice and water/sound quality, and create expressive maps capturing the movement of water and sound.


Slime mould problem solving a maze by Heather Barnett

Slime mould problem solving a maze by Heather Barnett


Slime Mould Boot Camp

12 March 2016, 11:00 – 13:00

Slime Mould Boot Camp (with Heather Barnett)
The slime mould, Physarum polycephalum, is a small brainless protozoa with surprising intelligence. Used as a model organism in many areas of scientific research it also makes for a great creative collaborator. In this workshop you will discover the fascinating role this single celled organism has to play in the cultures of science and art, and design a practical experiment to test its capabilities and problem-solving skills. Each participant will take home a new microbial pet to observe and experiment with.


Chemigram Magic by Don Li and Mira Varg

Chemigram Magic by Don Li and Mira Varg


The Chemigram Spell & Bottle Your Own Nebula

12 March 2016, 14:00 – 16:00

The Chemigram Spell (with Don Li & Mira Varg)
Offering some fresh air in the midst of a digital age, the workshop explores the potential of analogue photographic processes through a hands-on session, working with tools and materials that are unconventionally related to photographic processes – including paint brushes, syringes, honey and varnish. Come and experience the magic of an alternative image making process.


Bottle Your Own Nebula (with Carla Mancillas Serna)
Nebulas are massive clouds of interstellar dust in space, mainly composed of helium and hydrogen and other chemical elements. They are also known as “stellar nurseries”. These clouds of different shapes, sizes and colours coalesce in space, collapse and give birth to stars and planetary systems, like our own solar system. Learn about how nebulae form and create your own bottled cloud inspired by the colours and textures of cosmic dust.